Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In Search of Knowledge

The most important things I have learnt in life have not come from the classrooms; they have come from the words written down by men and women throughout the ages. They have come from humanity itself. Hence I have a strong belief that any well rounded individual must have a desire to learn, a love of words, written or spoken and an intellect that serves to define first the world and the individual's place in it. I have always fancied myself as someone with the ability to multi task so I find myself reading several books at once, trying to follow different events at home and abroad and letting my mind wander every which way. Anyway here's a list of material that I have recently consumed, are consuming and plan to consume.

"A Power Governments Cannot Suppress" by Howard Zinn is the best book I have picked up in a while. It touches on some of the biggest issues in the world today from America's foreign policy under the Bush administration to such grand themes as war and peace. It is an excellent read for anyone who desires to understand how western governments work and the role of civil society in any country in the world.

Ryszard Kapuscinski's "Travels With Herodotus" is perhaps one of the most inspiring books I have read this year. He was a polish foreign correspondent who reported from all corners of the globe in the decades before the internet brought the world that much closer. He saw civilization like few people did at the time and his tales simply stir wanderlust in me. One reviewer of the book simply says it is "A final gift, a call to wander widely and see deeply."

"An Intimate History of Humanity" by Theodore Zeldin is lying on my table. I had barely gotten to page 50 when I picked up Mr. Zinn's book and had to leave this for a while. It is however a compelling read so far, the title alone rouses my curiosity. I picked it up from my aunt just before I left for Cambodia and on the first page is a note from the previous owner to a friend; "Dear ____, A book I'm very fond of. Hope you'll enjoy. Love Wolfgang." I am compelled to find out why Wolfgang, whoever he may be, is very fond of this book. I will let you know when I am done with it.

"Al Jazeera: The Story of the Network That Is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism" by Mohammed El-Nawawy Adel Iskandar is without a doubt recommended reading for anyone with journalistic aspirations. It points to the future of global news networks while telling the story of a people much maligned in the west and their aspirations for peace.

There is a program run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) called Open Course Ware (OCW). It is a free publication of MIT course material that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT. It is not a degree-granting or credit bearing initiative, however you can work through the materials at your own pace and in whatever manner you desire. It is for those of us who simply desire the knowledge and could care less about the piece of paper that is called a degree. When I decided that I wanted to become a writer, I took a short trip to the OCW website and downloaded the course materials for a degree in literature. That is how I come to be reading John Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Homer's "The Odyssey" among many others. The former is considered a seminal book in classical literature for many reasons, not least of which is its deconstruction of religion and its role in human lives. I have barely begun book one but even going through the introduction is a lesson in history and literature that is priceless. Of the latter, the first paragraph is enough to strike you with wonder, it goes thus;

"Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them."


I have a collection of BBC's all time top 100 best novels; it contains such masterpieces as George Orwell's "1984", Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment", Tolstoy's "War and Peace", Hermann Hesse' "Siddhartha" and many other wonderful tales. I figure that by the time I am done reading all this stuff I will have honed my skill as a writer and then I will proceed to tell my tales. Why? You may ask. Why put all this garbage in your head? Well, it's simply because Stephen King told me, in his book "On Writing", that if I desired to write and do it well, I could do myself a favour by reading a lot and writing a lot.


I have a desire to understand the Middle East, I am curious as to why this place that is the home of these religions that purportedly teach peace is not peaceful. I want to understand every side and make up my mind whose cause I sympathise with. So I went and found myself Mehran Kamrava's "The Modern Middle East: A Political History Since The First World War". I will be telling you tales of what I learn, I am absolutely sure it will be worth the time. Incidentally the Israeli foreign minister was in town recently and he urged Uganda to use its position as non permanent member of the UN Security Council to pressure Iran on nuclear weapons. How do we make up our minds if we do not know the history?

I have been reading newspapers a lot, something I never imagined myself doing. I am addicted to the news as I've confessed before. Your blogs are a source of knowledge, humor, beauty and the occasional madness. I enjoy them thoroughly especially Tumwi, Greenfinity, Princess, Chanel, Miss Cheri, Heaven, Spartakuss, Lulu, Basics, Streetsider, Nevender, Baz, Antipop, Liz, TMS Ruge, TRP, Normzo, Sleek, and many more.

I recently joined a mailing list called I-Network and it's amazing the amount of information and expertise available in this forum. I am tracking all sorts of ICT related issues from here. There are discussions about the so called broadband, the fibre optic backbone project run by the ministry of ICT, mobile operators' service standards, ICT laws being discussed and passed in parliament and lots more. I discovered from this mailing list various job opportunities, reports like the NSSF audit, parliament's approved budget for the ministry of ICT, a new local magazine called "Enterprise Technology" and many other things.

I am currently looking for books about Afghanistan, The German View of WWII, Iran, Japan and most importantly a good analysis of our history since independence because I need to apply my mind to the Buganda question and the issue of Federo. I also desire to explore the oil question, how others have dealt with it and how we can learn from them. One of my dreams is to write a collection of tales that I can say is the world from my point of view and of those that have bore witness.


darlkom said...

May I say you are well on your way. Good Luck.

nevender said...

Man, yo so into information...